Q&A: Gary Tierney, HP Ireland

8 Mar 2011

Gary Tierney is country manager for HP Ireland’s Imaging and Printing Group.

What feedback are you getting from CIOs about their priorities for the year ahead?

If I look at the sectoral trends, the one in terms of the economic position is ‘help me do more with less’. That’s across the board, whether it’s public sector, whether it’s enterprise, whether it’s small to medium business. One of the vehicles to address that is managed print services; that’s been talked about for a number of years. I would now classify it as well and truly in the mainstream: no matter which vendor you talk to, the concept of reduced number of devices, integration of MFPs (multi-function printers) and single-function devices, taking cost out is established.

OK, so all the leading print vendors are offering this, but what is customer adoption like?

I think in the enterprise, we’re past the tipping point. SMB is slightly more different – I’d call it the tornado phase, still building up momentum. And in the public sector it hasn’t really made the shift over in that direction.

Is there a baseline figure for what people can expect to save?

Managing a piece of paper in its life cycle probably costs nine times what it cost to print it in the first place. If you’re going after the cost of printing a page, that’s 10pc. How are you addressing the other 90pc? There’s a lot of value to be had in that, whether it’s speeding up the process or whether it’s driving information to give insight in the business. We’ve seen every variation in this in the last two years in some accounts.

We’ve worked with the likes of Gartner and others to come up with the 9:1 ratio, but we can clearly articulate the cost that’s allocated to developing a piece of information – the time it takes to print it, gather it and retrieval. If you take a document ecosystem, there is data that shows all the aspects of what the costs apportioned are. And when we sit down with customers it resonates a lot with them.

Is it hard to persuade customers to buy newer hardware, even if it has useful features?

This is where managed print comes in because you’re effectively buying a service. When partners are sitting in front of a customer, they’re able to articulate exactly how you address these issues within the context of budget constraints here and now, and getting the right devices in the right places. But the devices are just that, they’re devices. It’s really about looking at the information within an organisation, whether it’s printed or not. It’s getting the information in the hands of the right people the right place at the right time, whether they’re working from home or on the road, and then looking at not just the cost of printing a piece of paper but the cost of managing that piece of paper over its life cycle.

Can you give examples?

Let’s take the loan process in banking: you need to get a couple of documents, typically captured in a branch, that have to be scanned. Typically, they’re photocopied, stapled together, put in a bag and sent overnight somewhere. Think of the logistics cost alone of moving that information around in vans to data processing centres. There’s a fair bit of work in looking at that ecosystem to take those steps out.

Most of the branches are all directly connected to headquarters now and there’s scanning functionality built into MFPs. You can print barcodes onto the forms as they’re being put out for the customer. One of our partners worked with a bank, and they’ve taken loan processing down from something like 15 days to three days. That’s value, and in terms of archiving that information and the cost of transporting the data, that’s when you start to take real cost out.

If we take that ratio, how much of that extra 90pc is just waste that can be eliminated?

The waste can be in people’s time: when you go to retrieve a piece of information that someone sent you six months ago, you want a damn good filing system, and that’s in an electronic format. Think of that in a paper-based environment; the cost of storage, the regulatory issues that some of these industries face. If you can reduce the footprint for storing this information, as well as speeding up the process, you’ve got a huge amount of value to be captured in that.

Can print contribute to IT strategy or is it just a vehicle to take cost out of the business?

If all you’ve done is focus on taking cost out, you’ve missed a bigger opportunity, which goes back to this 9:1 ratio.

If CIOs divide IT into the parts that can drive the business, and the parts that are just keeping the lights on, where does print sit?

It sits in both. When I talk about MPS being mainstream in enterprises, that’s pretty much around the cost aspect. Then the follow-on value add is to look at all of the content you’re producing – can you take more of that out, what processes are driving the biggest chunk of that content and can we reduce that volume. Once we understand the end-to-end process, that’s where the value can be added. That’s where the dialogue starts to come in about loan processing, marketing information, receiving invoices – there’s a lot of customers where everything that comes into their organisation is immediately scanned, archived and distributed.

To what extent is a conversation with a CIO about print and how much of it is about business process transformation?

It’s absolutely the latter. You’ve got to be able to do both, because that is where you really start to unlock the value for a customer. There’s been a blurring. With CIOs that we talk to, there was a time when print wasn’t really all that relevant. Print is actually very relevant, because they’re seeing this explosion in data. There was a time where a terabyte probably would have covered most of the organisations in Ireland in terms of storage. You can buy a desktop or a backup device now with a terabyte.

Most people tend to come to us having done some analysis: ‘we’ve got so many devices, we think we’re producing this many pages, give us a price’… and it’s from there that we start to educate and say: ‘We understand, but look at this going forward – is your page volume going to increase or reduce’? What about other areas of your business that you can look at: how do you control information? What applications are you using: SharePoint, or a document management system; are you leveraging that?

And in Ireland, we’re not there yet? It’s still a cost discussion?

A lot of the early adopters are into this, in sectors like financial services, legal, pharmaceutical, retail. There are pockets within public sector that have already looked at this. There are customers who this resonates with.

Gordon Smith was a contributor to Silicon Republic